Canadians with kids ‘just getting by’ financially: poll

A new poll released by BMO Monday says half of Canadians with children feel like they are just getting by and are falling behind on their monthly savings. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

TORONTO – Canadian families feel like they’re just getting by.

A mid-year poll released by BMO Monday says half of Canadians with children feel like they are falling behind on their monthly savings.

The majority of those polled feel more optimistic about the economy in general (56 per cent said they feel Canada is coming out of the recession. Fifty-seven per cent said Canada’s economy is doing better than the rest of the world).

But when it comes to their own personal finances, confidence isn’t as high.

The online poll of 1,518 adult Canadians (987 with kids), also found differences in attitudes between the generations.

While millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) with kids were generally more optimistic about the economy compared to baby boomers (55 years of age and up) with kids, the millennials had more debt and more expensive homes.

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And even though 76 per cent of millennials said they were more concerned about saving money this year compared to last year, almost half (47 per cent) expected to incur some spending debt this summer.

“While the majority of young families don’t feel they are falling behind financially, industry data show that they typically carry more debt,” said Tony Tintinalli, regional vice president at BMO.

For their part, baby boomers felt less optimistic about the Canadian economy. Just over half (53 per cent) of boomers said they felt Canada was coming out of the recession and growing its economy, compared to 62 per cent of millennials.

Experts said baby boomers pessimism may be due to increased financial strains.

“Baby boomers with children may have more pressing financial obligations, such as paying for kids’ university education, leading to lower confidence in personal finances and the economy,” said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The BMO poll comes as Canadians digest disappointing job numbers released on Friday. Employment unexpectedly fell by 9,400 jobs nationally in June.

Economists said the jobs result may spur the Bank of Canada to cut its growth expectations for the economy in this week’s monetary policy report.

“Even looking beyond what happened in June, the bigger picture is that outside of Alberta we’ve seen no job growth in the country in the past year,” said Doug Porter, chief economist with BMO Capital Markets.

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“There are a number of reasons, but simply put most of what had been the bigger drivers for the Canadian job market have really subsided … things like strong gains in home building, things coming from the consumer, even government spending. To some extent, the taps have been turned off,” said Porter.

So what’s a financially-stretched family to do?

Experts recommend taking action immediately to get on a sound financial track, including monitoring your spending by developing a budget and tracking daily spending, and consolidating your high-interest debt and paying off your debts with the highest interest first.

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